ASHVILLE — A new Meredith poll of more than 1,000 North Carolina residents took the temperature statewide on attitudes about health insurance and revealed that western NC residents are somewhat neutral or positive about their coverage.
The polling, held between October 17–Nov. 2 and 15, surveyed 199 people who said they lived in the WNC area, including Asheville. It was created in collaboration with Meredith Poole and the North Carolina Center for Health and Democracy. This is the first Meredith poll on health insurance, according to its founder and director, David McLennan, professor of political science at Meredith College in Raleigh.
Established in 2015, the poll tackles a range of civic and political public issues.
Statewide, the survey surveyed 1,012 people and focuses on whether people are satisfied with their health insurance provider.
The survey states, “While most North Carolinians are satisfied with their current health insurance provider, only 8.3% of North Carolinians feel their health insurer has their best interests in mind.”
“Moreover, the study found that North Carolinians blame health insurance companies more than any other part of the health care system for rising health care costs (23.7%). In every demographic group surveyed, these Health insurance companies were the top cause of rising costs.
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According to the poll, WNC residents specifically had a range of perspectives on whether insurance companies had their best interests in mind:
- 13.4% of WNC residents strongly disagreed with keeping health insurance companies’ best interests at heart.
- 18.9% of WNC residents disagreed with taking the interests of health insurance companies into account.
- 27.6% of WNC residents were neutral when asked whether health insurance companies have their best interests in mind.
- 21.3% of WNC residents believe that health insurance companies have their best interests in mind.
- 18.9% of WNC residents strongly agreed that health insurance companies have their best interests in mind.
In another portion of the poll, 70.7% of WNC respondents said they are somewhat or very satisfied with their current health insurance provider.
When asked which parts of the election stood out most to him, McLellan pointed to several elements, including how a bad experience with a healthcare provider can affect the way people view insurance.
“The level of dissatisfaction was really significant for people who had negative interactions with an insurance provider,” he said in an interview.
He emphasized a statewide sentiment on diversity of insurance options, a matter that is the core of the lawsuits against HCA Healthcare-owned Mission Health in WNC: Plaintiffs in those cases say HCA has a local monopoly that restricts business. has been increasing the prices of health insurance while limiting alternative.
“People don’t feel like they have a lot of options, especially through their employer,” McLennan said, referencing the election results. “It seems like common sense. I think for the Center for Health and Democracy, they’re getting into that question about providing more options for people in North Carolina, either through employers or through private exchanges.” has an interest in.
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Over 42% of those surveyed said their private health insurance was the only option provided by their employer and only 26% reported being very satisfied with the results.
In WNC, 29.1% of those surveyed obtain insurance through their employers. About the same number, 28.6%, get health insurance through Medicare.
Additionally, the company that provides the most health insurance in WNC is Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina by far: 46.9% of WNC respondents surveyed said they have BCBSNC.
Wendell Potter, founder of the Center for Health and Democracy and former Cigna executive, said the survey results point to underlying, systemic issues that affect the livelihoods of insurance consumers.
“The Meredith Poll findings show us that North Carolina’s insurance companies continually push through barriers to access and rely on a complex process to maximize profits and minimize patient care. Their strategy — millions in North Carolina annually Denying in-network claims and raising premiums while posting record profits – that’s why I left the health insurance industry more than a decade ago,” Potter said. “Their greed-driven actions have life or death consequences, and it’s time to shine a light on this broken system.”
Andrew Jones is an investigative reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, which is part of the USA TODAY network. Contact him on Facebook and Twitter at @arjonesreports, 828-226-6203 or [email protected] Please help support this type of journalism with a subscription to Citizen Times.